Sunday, December 28, 2014

Forget Plastics, Invest in Sticky Notes

I was too young to have seen The Graduate when it was released at my tender age of six, but the miracle of television allowed me -- and many others -- the luxury of experiencing sheer movie genius. I, along with many others, nodded solemnly with the advice to invest in "Plastics," when given in the movie, hoping that there would be similar advice for me when I graduated from college that would offer riches beyond measure.

In researching today, I found out that within a year of the movie's release, plastic manufacturing companies became enormously successful. Many people attribute this to Walter Brooke's quote about "plastics". Brooke himself once told his nephew that he would have invested in plastics, if he had known that the remark would lead to such success.  

While I don't know what lead to the invention of plastics, it is well-documented that Post-It notes were invented entirely by accident, and rather than plastics, I wish someone had whispered POST ITS into my ear at graduation.  

It's no secret that most teachers actually exhibit physical highs in August when the new school supplies are trucked into the stores, with fabulous deals on brand new glue sticks and virginal packages of lined paper.  We caress the new binders, some sniff the new crayons, and invest in perfect collections of color-coordinated Sharpies and pens, vowing NEVER to harm the self-esteem of students by grading papers in RED, God forbid, choosing to find a nice green or purple to soften the blow of the spelling of EXCAPE.  (Yes, I'm still harping on that since yesterday!)

But the most enticing of all of the school supplies -- those amazing sticky notes.  Ahhhhhhhh!  The shapes, the neons, the lined, the unlined.  The supersticky, the easy peel, the cheap pale yellow ones that schools buy and we only give to the kids to use because, well, they're about as motivating as the substandard tissues also provided by the district.  There are very few teachers who would argue against the value of a quality assortment of Post It notes. 

 Forget Plastics, Invest in Sticky Notes

If you walk down the English wing on any given day, most of the doors contain those familiar square post its.  To the untrained eye, it may appear as if the teacher has a heck of a lot of shopping to do, or a bunch of reminders, but those in the know recognize a "Ticket Out the Door" when they see one.  (Or 28 clustered on one door.)  The habit of asking a summarizing question to prompt closure for the lesson that is recorded on a post it and turned in "on the way out" allows teachers the flexibility to revisit what worked and what didn't during the day's lesson, and to make adjustments about how to start the lesson the following day.  Should there be a bit of remediation?  Does everyone "get" what they learned today?  Should he/she go back to square one and reteach?  Those little squares offer a lot of insight into the mindset of the students on the way out the door.

I've used color post its on desks to color code and sort groups.  (And it's unpredictable!  One time it might be "Sort yourselves by color" and the next time it's "Get in a group with all different colors", etc.)  Of course, there are many reading strategies that use post its to assist with comprehension, 
and amazing ice breaker games that can aid in developing trust or relationships in groups.

Students can be given green, yellow, and red post its to serve as flags to post, to assist a circulating teacher trying to identify who needs help with a new concept and bypass those who MIGHT get it or need no help at all.  During my Espionage unit, post it notes provide wonderful clues to keep the spy activities interactive and on track. 

Certainly, there are some fabulous practical jokes that can be formed -- did you ever see an entire car covered in post it notes?  This one served as a marriage proposal.  Heck, I was in a hotel recently where there was a post it note left on the headboard telling me the duvet had been cleaned prior to my arrival.  (Gotta tell you, that wasn't all that reassuring -- especially when I found out that the same note appeared, in the same handwriting, on every headboard in the place.)

So, while you're bored during this break, google post it notes.  If you don't already value them for anything more than a reminder to GET MILK posted on your steering wheel, you really should consider the educational, psychological, practical, and entertaining value of the almighty Sticky Note.

Oh, and forward this post -- I'm hoping that the 21% increase in 3M stock this past year translates to something great for me in 2015.